Brahui, a Dravidian language spoken in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, has been listed as one of the ancient languages of the world.
Leading linguists from all over the world declared Brahui an ancient language during a seminar called International Conference on Brahui Language and Culture, held at Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad. The language is now considered the parent language of 7,000 Dravidian languages spoken in the Deccan in India. Brahui is spoken in a small isolated pocket deep in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Brahui is a language isolate. This means that it is isolated from other languages of its family, i.e. Dravidian. Brahui is located at least 1,500 kilometres from its closest Dravidian cousin. So far, there has been no consensus on whether Brahui is a relatively recent language introduced into Balochistan or the remnant of an ancient language that was at some point widespread in the region but subsequently died down in surrounding areas. Some scholars believe it to be an ancient language that migrated from its place of origin to where it is now found. The seminar concluded that Brahui is an ancient language but did not say anything decisive about its migratory status.
Research scholars from the United States, Spain, Germany, Iraq, Mexico, Canada, the Czech Republic, Pakistan and other countries presented papers at the conference. It was noted that the indigenous languages of Pakistan were suffering due to the government's policy of promoting education only in Urdu and English.
According to the researchers, further study into the origins of Brahui could help to solve the problems associated with the Harappan, Mohenjo Daro and Mehrgarh languages.
The 2013 edition of Ethnologue reports that there are about 4.2 million speakers of Brahui with 4 million living in Pakistan, mainly in the province of Balochistan.
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